The Last of Us: Remastered is out for PS4 on July 30th. The original for PS3 is still available.
There is almost nothing left to say.
'The Last of Us' - Sony and Naughty Dog's survival horror masterpiece - was the best reviewed game of 2013 and gave the PS3 one of its few true, definitive exclusive games right at the end of its lifecycle.
Now the game is back, with upgraded graphics and all the DLC included, to give the PS4 an easy boost during the traditionally limp summer months.
So what's changed?
Most obviously, the graphical bumps are genuinely impressive. That shouldn't be a surprise. For what is an often grimy, dark game set in a sprawling landscape of cities and towns filled with 'infected' (read: 'fungal zombies), The Last of US was always oddly beautiful. In this world nature has reclaimed civilisation. Plants and flowers grow everywhere. Sunsets leak through rotten wooden walls and shattered rooftops. There is nature, as well as death and decay.
On the PS4, this is simply given a new level of fidelity and scale. It's running in 1080p and 60FPS, and everything from the lighting to the detail of individual textures is enhanced. The result is a more immersive visual experience. No, it's not Earth-shatteringly better -- and you might have to play both side-by-side to truly 'get it', but it's a real improvement.
Meanwhile the characters of Joel, the gruffly-voiced male protector, and Ellie, his 14-year-old ward and companion, as well as the supporting cast of shambling maniacs, are believable, nuanced digital actors and in this version have never looked better. The cut-scenes in particular approach something like photo-realism.
In this version you also get access to the 'Left Behind' DLC, two multiplayer map packs and the new Grounded ultra-hard difficulty mode too.
All that aside, the most overwhelming reason to play The Last of Us Remastered is simply that (a) you own a PS4 and (b) you haven't played The Last of Us yet.
Because after a bit of internal gloating at the higher-res graphics, the main reason you will pour your time and emotions into this game is that the story is as thrilling, gut-wrenching and compelling as it was a year ago, and the third-person adventure mechanics are just about good enough to hold the whole thing together at the core.
Much has been written about games-as-movies (and vice versa). Most of it is critical over-analysis and pointless boundary marking. But 'The Last of Us' is the best argument yet for the medium's potential to approach the heights of Spielberg, or for that matter HBO. The pseudo father-daughter relationship it describes is haunting and delicate, and the impact is as lasting as any classic novel or box-set.
There are still a few rough edges. The game is difficult at times, and a few mechanics (find a ladder, place a ladder, find another ladder...) fall flat. The AI can also be a bit ropey.
None of those flaws matter, though. This is still a classic video game of the very highest order. It's dark, true and enjoyable, and it's never looked better. If you haven't played it, you must.
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